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lung transplants

Photo from Northwell Health

Northwell Health announced Jan. 31 that it has begun listing patients who need a lung transplant through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the final steps toward opening the first lung transplant program serving Long Island and Queens residents.

As the number of New Yorkers requiring a lung transplant have tripled over the last decade, the Northwell Health Transplant Center at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) launched its program to fill an urgent need. With the addition of lung, NSUH now offers world-class solid organ transplantation services for adult heart, kidney liver and lung. Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park also performs pediatric kidney transplants. There are currently just 73 lung transplant centers in the United States.

Lung transplantation was already expected to grow before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic left in its wake an entire cohort of survivors whose lungs have been permanently scarred, damaged or otherwise compromised. About 7 percent of lung transplants performed in 2021 were COVID-related. That’s in addition to the fact that Northwell physicians saw a 23 percent increase in patients experiencing lung failure between 2017-19.

“Half of all lung transplant recipients at New York City hospitals traveled from Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island,” said Zachary Kon, MD, surgical director of advanced lung failure and lung transplantation services at Northwell. “It’s important for patients to receive care in the communities where they live. That’s why Northwell being able to offer lung transplantation opens up options for the region and improves quality of life for their entire network of supporters on this life-saving health journey. One expedition is enough.”

The lung transplant program, which has received all necessary regulatory approvals, is the latest addition to an ongoing clinical and capital investment into North Shore University Hospital. The Petrocelli Advanced Surgical Pavilion, a seven-story, 280,000-square-foot building meant to transform the capabilities of the Level I trauma center and teaching hospital, is expected to open in 2023. NSUH is also home to the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, the Katz Women’s Hospital, neurosurgery, multi-organ transplant services and one of the busiest emergency departments in the New York Metropolitan area.

“Lung transplant is the latest life-changing specialty we’re proud to offer to the communities we serve, and like everything we do at North Shore University Hospital, it will be performed with sophistication and best-in-class care,” said Jon Sendach, executive director of NSUH. “Our reputation already makes us a destination for complex medical procedures and that coordination of care as part of an integrated health system sets us apart.”

NSUH performed Long Island’s first heart transplant in February 2018 and followed up by completing Long Island’s first liver transplant in December 2019.

UNOS is a nonprofit which serves as the nation’s transplant system, overseeing the network of transplant hospitals, organ procurement organizations and thousands of volunteers who are dedicated to honoring the gifts of life entrusted to us and to making lifesaving transplants possible for patients in need.